By Nik DeCosta-Klipa

Massachusetts residents may soon be able to order marijuana to their front door.

Last week, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission approved new rules that pave the way for companies to deliver recreational marijuana directly to customers. The regulations, which were adopted Tuesday, created a new type of license for marijuana delivery companies.

Delivery has already been allowed for registered medical marijuana patients. But allowing it for recreational customers — while not required by the 2016 ballot measure legalizing the drug — would give legal operators a chance to provide a service that is currently still dominated by black market dealers, according to CCC officials.

“Marijuana is here, has been here, and it’s not going away,” CCC Commissioner Britte McBride wrote in a recent opinion piece for CommonWealth magazine. “Illegal delivery services are openly competing against licensed, regulated, taxpaying businesses, and that demands our response.”

Well, the commission officially responded last week. Here’s what comes next.

For the first two years, the CCC will only give delivery licenses to applicants in their social equity program, as well as small, locally owned businesses that CCC officials have approved for delivery.

The reason for the two-year exclusivity period (which starts when the first delivery license is issued) is rooted in the CCC’s efforts to promote small and minority entrepreneurs — particularly given how marijuana prohibition disproportionately harmed black and Latino communities — in an industry that faces encroaching dominance by big corporations. Officials have noted that delivery companies generally require less start-up costs than full-fledged dispensaries, providing a prime opportunity to encourage participation.

Applicants in the CCC’s social equity program, which provides assistance to prospective companies, must be recent residents of a community that qualifies as “an area of disproportionate impact” and have an income that doesn’t exceed 400 percent of the federal poverty level; a recent drug conviction; or a spouse or parent with a recent drug conviction.

After the first two years, the CCC will have the option of extending the exclusivity period for an additional year, if their equity goals are not yet met.

Unless they’re a microbusiness that grows their own cannabis, marijuana delivery companies will be transporting someone’s else product; the new rules require them to sign contracts with licensed retailers.

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